The World Bank has agreed to suspend all new investments in the palm oil industry by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) - an independent body within the World Bank focused on the private sector - with immediate effect. In a letter to Both ENDS' partner Forest Peoples Programme, Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank, writes that all existing investments will be re-examined, pending a number of guarantees that must limit damage to humans and the environment.
Whenever I see pictures of the people in the Dutch province of Groningen whose houses are collapsing because of gas extraction and who, even if they wanted to move somewhere else, would never be able to sell them, I can't help but think of all the people worldwide who have been experiencing the same problems, sometimes for decades. Every time I see the anger and powerlessness of the people of Groningen, the comparison to the many people we have been working with for many years in many parts of the world comes to my mind.
Friday 5 June 2009 was a tragic day for the future of the Peruvian Amazon. At least 31 people have died in clashes between the security forces and indigenous people in the Amazon region. Those killed included indigenous people and policemen. An unknown number of civil people are wounded, arrested or have disappeared. The fights took place at a jungle highway near the town of Bagua, as a result of an operation of Peruvian police forces to disperse the roadblocks formed by protesting indigenous people.
Both ENDS and Forest Peoples Program have formally requested the European Parliament, Commission and Council and the EU Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, to consult indigenous and local communities impacted by EU trade in palm oil and other agricultural commodities in formal EU policy deliberations on these topics. Why did we decide to do so and what's it all about? Our colleague Michael Rice sheds some light on the matter.
In April 2007, a number of environmentalists organized a demonstration in the Ugandan capital of Kampala. They were protesting against the Ugandan government's plans to grant a permit to the Sugar Corporation of Uganda Limited (SCOUL), a sugar manufacturer, for the felling and exploitation of large parts of the ancient Mabira forest. The peaceful protest was forcefully put to an end by the Ugandan military and police, and protesters were charged. However, international media uproar forced the Ugandan government to withdraw the charges against the protesters and to nullify the logging concession.